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Family of activist demand apology after award given to Jewish Labour Movement

Del Singh, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2014, had served on the board of Labour Friends of Palestine
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn presented the JLM with the award on Sunday evening (screengrab)

The family of a pro-Palestine activist is demanding an apology from the British Labour Party after it gave an award created in his memory to the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

Del Singh was a Labour candidate for the European Parliament when he died in a Taliban attack in Kabul in 2014.

A former adviser to the UN and the UK's Department for International Development, Singh's humanitarian work had taken him to Kosovo and Sudan, among other conflict areas, before he was stationed in Afghanistan.

Singh's sister said he was a member of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East and the "cause of Palestinian human rights remained close to Del's heart for much of his life."

The award, which has in the past been given to LGBT Labour and the Labour Women's Network, was presented by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday evening, at the party's annual conference.

Seeing the award presented to "those that have tirelessly defended the human rights abuses of the Israeli occupation, which Del spoke so passionately against," was "not easy to stomach," his sister said.

"Those that have defended the illegal blockade of Gaza and the consecutive wars against the trapped population which Del categorically believed to be nothing short of collective punishment and war crimes."

The JLM is a member of the World Zionist Organisation, which promotes the expansion of Israeli settlements within Palestine, in contravention of international law. 

'Misappropriation' of his memory

Singh's family are now asking for the award to be revoked, and a full explanation offered as to why it was given to the JLM, as well as an apology from Corbyn and the party. They say it is a "misappropriation" of his memory.

"To use my brother's name and disrespect his memory and everything he stood for is beyond crude and offensive; I can confidently say that Del would have been outraged at this," his sister said.

The Jewish News, reporting the presentation of the award on Sunday night, said "ironically, Singh…had previously served on the board of the Labour Friends of Palestine."

Jeremy Newmark, the chair of the JLM, told the Jewish Chronicle on Tuesday that he "had the privilege of meeting Del Singh on a number of occasions at Labour Party meetings and events.

"Whilst we clearly had different perspectives on elements of the Middle East conflict we also had much in common on both this and other issues, including commitment to human rights, equality and social justice."  

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